Welcome to the Disability Awesome segment! Each week here on Geek Alabama, Disability Awesome will feature a person or persons with mental and / or physical disabilities who are doing awesome and great things! As editor / publisher Nathan Young has an disability (Autism), we here at Geek Alabama love it when others when disabilities do great things!
Auburn University’s EAGLES have a new “nest” to call home.
The College of Education program — designed to give students with intellectual disabilities a complete college experience while helping them achieve their employment and independent living goals — recently opened a completely renovated facility that will help its students soar to new heights. Equipped with classrooms, a technology center, staff office space, a conference room, lobby and even a kitchen, the program’s new 3,200-square-foot home in Foy Hall offers staff and students numerous resources to streamline operations and maximize the program’s success.
A comprehensive transition program, EAGLES (Education to Accomplish Growth in Life Experiences for Success) has grown to 20 students in 2022 and will welcome nine freshmen in the fall. The nondegree program focuses on academic enrichment, the teaching of personal, social and independent living skills, health and wellness enhancement and integrated work experiences.
EAGLES students are immersed in all aspects of Auburn campus life and now have a new state-of-the-art facility to enjoy.
“Our students absolutely love it, and we couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out,” said Betty Patten, EAGLES program director and assistant clinical professor. “It’s so nice here, and the atmosphere is more conducive to collaborative partnerships. Several of our staff members have stated that they can’t believe this is where we get to work. This facility will help us achieve our goals and better serve the amazing students we have the pleasure of working with here at Auburn University.”
The facility renovation was part of the university’s ongoing construction projects approved by the Auburn Board of Trustees in 2021 and represents the latest step in the program’s evolution since it began in 2018. With the support of Tyler Hand and Whitney Brock from Auburn Facilities Management and Ricky Causy from Rabren General Contractors, the renovation took place from November through early February and was a team effort among several Auburn constituents and partners.
“It took the hard work of so many people to get this done, and I can’t thank them all enough for coming together to provide this amazing nest for our EAGLES,” Patten said. “This truly shows the investment from leadership to create a space that represents the work we do and the students we serve. We truly feel supported by everyone across campus and by the Auburn family, and we are ready to help our EAGLES soar.”
The new space will allow EAGLES staff to conduct classes and meetings, conduct day-to-day business, teach students an array of skills through 17 program courses and train Warmhearted Individuals Nurturing Great Success (WINGS) peer mentors to help propel the program onward and upward. The facility serves as a boost for a program that continues to make a difference in the lives of Auburn students.
“I am very impressed by our EAGLES’ new ‘nest,’ and I believe it is a facility that can help take our program to the next level,” said College of Education Dean Jeffrey Fairbrother, who attended the facility’s grand opening along with Auburn Mayor Ron Anders and Auburn Board of Trustees member Sarah Newton. “This is the result of an impassioned collaboration among our EAGLES staff — headed by Dr. Betty Patten — Auburn senior leadership, Auburn Facilities Management, area construction visionaries and multiple constituents from across campus. I am excited to see our EAGLES continue to flourish and thrive during their time at Auburn, and now they have the resources to fly higher than ever before.”
EAGLES students have been excited to use the nest’s resources and look forward to enhancing their experience at Auburn.
“We can all come together, do class together, bond with each other and have a good time with each other,” EAGLES second-year student Sadie Weldon of Mobile told WTVM-TV the week of the grand opening. “I’ve met new people, and the community here has been amazing. I love the classes that I’m taking. I just love it here.”
Individuals who are interested in donating to the EAGLES program may do so via this link.
This story originally appeared on Auburn University’s website.
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